Liu Shuang [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn] Liu Shuang, a 39-year-old artist from Shanghai, received the Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture on Friday, the highest award from the 2020 exhibition of the British Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Liu is the first Chinese to win the prestigious prize in the 129-year history of the institution. The COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for him to travel to London, so he received the prize in Shanghai from Gill Caldicotte, director of the British Council in East China, who praised Liu for his "exceptional talent in realistic portraiture". Liu Shuang's award winning work, Woman in Stadtische Galerie, pictures an elderly woman in a close-up shot. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn] Liu is founding director of the Shanghai Youth Realistic Painting Salon, a position he's held since 2016, and his award-winning piece is a small work, 30 x 40 centimeters in dimension. Entitled Woman in Stadtische Galerie, it pictures an elderly woman in a close-up shot. Portraying older people was one of his favorite subjects, Liu said on Friday. He was fascinated by the traces of age and rich life experience in the subject. The starting point of this particular piece, he said, was in "tribute to classic painting masters", such as those of the 19th century French Beaux Arts movement. Gill Caldicotte, director of the British Council in East China, presents the prize to Liu Shuang in Shanghai on Friday. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn] Xu Mangyao, a veteran art professor at Shanghai Normal University, supervised Liu for his master's degree program in his studio. Xu spoke about the introduction of oil paintings into China over the past 100 years. In past decades, thanks to the development of international communications, Chinese artists have a more comprehensive understanding of Western art, and even though oil painting is a Western genre "art is a big family with no boundaries", and "Liu Shuang's winning the prize is a best proof," Xu said.